‘Ax?’ Zeff tried, able to feel the reaper’s presence there on his back.
There was no answer.
Zeff pushed him with his soul. ‘Ax, wake up.’
‘Ah--mm? What’s happening? Zeff?’
‘We’re about to fight the Marauder of Calthos.’
‘What? How the--?’ The reaper gave an inaudible groan.
‘Do you know what his ability is?’ Zeff asked.
On the other side of the room, Caster shifted. His reaper twitched, and Zeff and Asad both responded. A storm of ice and glass materialized in an instant and crashed down on Caster. Or looked like it did, at least. White shards flew in all directions, creating a cloud of sparkling dust, but it quickly cleared and revealed the expected: Caster was entirely unharmed.
The man’s hands, however, had changed. They were scarcely visible, having become vague distortions in the air, pulsating in place.
Zeff grit his teeth, immediately recognizing the enormous problem before him.
‘Oh god,’ said Ax, horrified. ‘Destruction with pan-rozum. Zeff, we can’t win this.’
Zeff’s mind went to his children. ‘We can’t lose it, either.’ He concentrated, pushing himself, searching for the limit of his power. He hadn’t had the opportunity to properly test himself since achieving emergence against Parson so many times.
One might consider that a problem, being ignorant of one’s own capabilities, but Zeff also felt somehow strangely empowered by it, because at the moment, anything seemed possible. Even against an opponent with such an overwhelming soul as this, victory felt achievable.
Because it had to be.
Zeff’s hand trembled as he made all the muscles in his arm go taut, pouring his focus into it. He wanted a pressurized drill. What he got was a hovering maelstrom of freezing water, larger than his whole body.